The next day we woke up in Kailua-Kona and the previous night now seemed like a surreal nightmare. The sun was shining and we enjoyed the hotels continental breakfast by the pool. We watched as many fit people were either running or cycling through town , preparing for the Ironman Competition. I suggested to Jane that we should go for a jog…no, no sorry of course I didn’t. Instead Jane and I did our version of the triathlon: shopping for tat, driving in the car along the coast road and finding a spot to snorkel!
We stopped at Kahaluu Beach Park which promised good snorkelling and shallow beach access to the water. It was similar in a way to Sharks Cover in Oahu except that here we had to scramble a bit across lava rock. We were soon in and heads down looking at the reef. The water was incredibly clear in parts and the fish, once again beautiful, in fact we’d go as far as to say that this was our favourite snorkelling spot so far. We saw lots of new fish and several shoals of large fish. Favourite new fish was the Rock Mover who was a very strange looking creature with false eyelashes!
We spent about an hour here before it was time to move on as we still needed to drive all along the south road to Volcano and I was determined that we would not be doing this in the dark today.
To start with the road was very windy and there were numerous different warning signs along the way…fault zones, tsunami evacuation routes, high risk of fire etc and I needed to concentrate hard as we drove through lush tropical landscape. We then started to rise up the slopes of Mauna Loa and at times were driving through ancient (probably) lava flows. Eventually we found ourselves dropping down again to sea level and as it did we hit rain..to start with sunshine and showers and then a massive downpour. We decided to stop at the Punaluu Bake House. This was an incredible place in the middle of nowhere (Naalehu) but it was packed with folk from a Roberts Hawaii tour bus, sheltering from the rain. It soon became obvious why this place was so popular….freshly baked donuts in a massive variety of flavours. I went for a vanilla cream whilst Jane opted for dirty Bread pudding. I call it dirty but it turned out that it was actually remarkably tasty!
Whilst we were here they had an information board with pictures of turtles on it. It was only 7 miles to the turtle turn off and whilst I was on a bit of a mission to just get us to Volcano this stop was not to be missed, as it promised we would see the turtles sunbathing on the beach. On we went and then walked along to Punaluu Black Sand Beach. It’s quite different to all the white sand beaches we’ve been visiting and it makes the sea a different colour too. Quite stunning.
But the best bit was that we did indeed see turtles both swimming in the sea and grazing on the rocks, and one lying, having swum in, having a rest on the beach. Hurrah!
Now it really was time to cover some miles as we still had about another 40 of the total 99 miles to go! Progress is slow because of the very low speed limits. Now we started to rise back up the slopes of the mountain. It started to pour with rain again but the road by now was dead straight up and so we just gradually made our way up 1000ft by 1000ft. Eventually, we entered Volcanoes National Park, much to my excitement. But for now we ignored the Visitor Centre and made our way into the town of Volcano. I think this is at an altitude of 5000ft above sea level.
I say ‘town’ ….but there’s not much here. However, the Volcano stored served up our essential supplies and we booked into the Oleho Cafe for dinner later as apparently it was getting booked up. I think I saw 3 names on the reservation list!
Then it was time to make our way to our Air BnB ‘Lil Blu’ but more of that later!
However, we did come back in the pouring rain for a lovely meal here at the cafe.